In this weekly feature, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson shares his favorite fashion moment of the week, and explains how it could shape styles to come. Look for it on What’s Right Now every Friday.
The Moment: On Thursday night, inside the centuries-old Venetian Arsenal in Venice, Italy, the former Mugler designer and Lady Gaga collaborator Nicola Formichetti (pictured, below left) presented his first collection as artistic director of Diesel, a raucous party and runway tribute to the Italian denim label’s 35-year history and its future. This included an array of skintight leather dresses accessorized with nose piercings; denim leggings in bleached, eyelet, grunge and patchwork varieties; army jackets with sleeves that had been tagged with Diesel graffiti; balaclavas with neon fur pompoms; striped fuzzy sweaters, and a performance of a song called “Opulence” by the American rapper Brooke Candy (pictured, below right) who was so opulent she ripped off her leather top at the very end of the show and flashed the audience.
During all of this, three wall-sized video displays created by longtime digital collaborator Nick Knight showed images of mostly naked, writhing ballet dancers, clad only in wedgie-fit Diesel thongs. At one point they were shown being splattered by a smashed watermelon. It was like Caligula meets Gallagher.
To say there was something for everyone would be as much of a stretch as there is in the denim jersey “Jogg Jeans” that Diesel popularized recently, which is to say a lot. But Formichetti’s first complete collection since he joined the company a year ago perfectly captured the sense of youthful rebellion that was once a hallmark of Diesel but that had been missing in recent years. It was more like there was something for anyone who celebrates being different (particularly those with all-over body tattoos).
“It’s a vision of what we’re thinking about for the next 35 years,” Formichetti said after the show. “It’s about different colors and different body types, but with a global look. I love the idea of an alternative spirit. It’s a global gang.”
Renzo Rosso, the label’s founder, said during an interview here on Wednesday that as his fashion empire expanded to including manufacturing and ownership of other labels, the Diesel label needed a new visionary for the future. He selected Formichetti, a “superstar of communication” as Rosso described him.
No one in Venice could have missed his message. Diesel, which is underwriting the restoration of the city’s Rialto Bridge, has advertisements all over town, including on the sides of boats crossing the Grand Canal. And for the main event, several designers whose companies fall under the umbrella of Diesel’s parent company OTB, including Dan and Dean Caten of DSquared2, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren of Viktor & Rolf, and Consuelo Castiglioni from Marni, were boated in, along with Dree Hemingway and rocker Courtney Love, the latter wearing a leopard-print blouse and belt with pinstripe pants.
Why It’s a Wow: Besides his sense of showmanship, Formichetti is known for experimenting with social media and technology in ways that have made his work far more accessible to a global audience, which should play well into his plans for the denim label. At Diesel, he has already introduced ad campaigns photographed on smartphones and manipulated with filter apps, as well as placed a hashtag on pretty much anything with letters (#dieselvenice).
For this show, Diesel also announced a partnership with Twitter that included several buzzy features, like a Twitter Mirror that uploaded images of guests to the @DIESEL account during a cocktail party, and some sort of top-secret technology that was meant to increase user engagement… but you lost me at technology. And in an unfortunate twist, there was very limited cell reception at the venue, so hardly anyone was able to post images of the show until much, much later, well after Brooke Candy had shared her candy and all the models had boarded boats on their way back home.
Learn More: Full video of the show is coming to diesel.com, or learn more about Formichetti’s embrace of online communities in an interview at Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio. And if she’s your cup of tea, watch out for Brooke Candy’s video for “Opulence” on April 20. (Let’s just say that date will have significance to those with an “alternative spirit.”)